Department for Community Based Services

Standards of Practice Online Manual

11.14 When to File a Petition

Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Department for Community Based Services
Division of Protection and Permanency
Standards of Practice Online Manual
Chapter 11-CPS Court
11.14 When to File a Petition

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Legal Authority/Introduction



The SSW:

  1. May file a petition for removal or non-removal;
  2. Files a petition, after consultation with the FSOS, when:
    1. A child is in imminent danger; or
    2. A child is at risk of significant injury or harm;
  3. Should consider filing a petition, in the following types of cases:
    1. A child is at risk of ongoing abuse, neglect or dependency;
    2. A child is five (5) years of age or younger, with substantiated physical abuse;
    3. A child is neglected, resulting in significant risk of injury or harm;
    4. A child is sexually abused; or
    5. The family is not cooperating, and, as a result, the child is at risk of further abuse or neglect;
  4. Documents in the assessment the reason(s) justifying why a petition is not filed when, upon consultation with the FSOS, it is determined that a petition is not necessary;
  5. In jurisdictions in which the county attorney makes the final determination if a petition may be filed:
    1. Documents efforts to file the petition; and
    2. Places a copy of the denied petition in the case record;
  6. Follows procedures outlined in SOP 11.13 How to File a Petition when filing the petition;
  7. Follows procedures outlined in SOP 11.25 Adjudication Hearings when there are questions and/or concerns regarding the court finding.1 

Practice Guidance

  • Special consideration should be given in situations where the child is currently protected, but it may be advantageous to obtain a court adjudication of abuse or neglect, which carries more weight than an agency finding. 
    • For example, when a child has been sexually abused but is currently being protected, the perpetrator may have access to other children, now or in the future, and a court finding may be necessary to take protective measures.


  1. Based on the evidence presented, the judge makes a finding of fact and conclusion of law regarding whether or not a child is dependent, neglected or abused.


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